Voices 5/13/08

Producer/Host: Amy Browne


The tiny Chagos islands are about as far from here as you can get—- in the middle of the Indian Ocean, and the rightful inhabitants are descendants of slaves and workers brought from Africa and India generations ago to work on coconut plantations.    So when the US and England decided to make them “go away” 40 years ago,  it’s pretty likely they didn’t expect to hear from them again.  You see the US wanted the largest of the islands, Diego Garcia, for a handy cold-war era military base, and England agreed to a long-term lease of the area, which they’d claimed as a colony, setting in motion a series of tragic events that might have been forgotten if not for the fortitude and persistence of the people.  This is a story that just might have a happy ending, and soon—- one in which a small group of people with dark skin and little money, with few resources at all except their powerful voices, may actually get justice in a battle that pits them against England and one of the largest US military bases on the planet.

Today we’re going to hear how their story has made it’s way to Mainers, and what some local folks are doing to help the Chagos people have their day in court.  We’re going to alternative between the voices of Dud Hendick of Maine Veterans for Peace,  and audio from the 2004 film “Stealing a Nation, a Special Report” by award-winning documentary maker (and former war correspondent) John Pilger.  Pilger’s film has a role in the Mainer’s plan to help the people of Chagos

FMI: www.letthemreturn.com;  Veteran’s for Peace c/0 Dud Hendrick, PO Box 10, Deer Isle, ME 04627, 207-348-2511, dudhe@verizon.net